By macleans.ca - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 0 Comments
He may be the leader of the third party, but everything goes quiet when he rises to speak
Shortly after Bob Rae was first elected in 1978, John Diefenbaker, the former prime minister who remained a MP until his death in 1979 at the age of 83, imparted two pieces of advice: “Don’t take any s–t from anybody,” and “Go for the throat every time.”
These might be words to live by, but Rae looked elsewhere for inspiration—to Allan MacEachen, the legendary Liberal, and Tommy Douglas, the patron saint of the NDP. MacEachen was a commanding presence who taught Rae you couldn’t be yelling all the time, that you had to have “more than one gear.” Douglas was disciplined and practical. He cracked jokes and didn’t hold grudges. And it was Douglas who told him to eschew notes when speaking in the House. “Because as soon as you start to do it, he says, you lose all the spontaneity and all the effect,” Rae recalls.
Here are the makings of a master of the House.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 1:06 PM - 0 Comments
Amid much speculating about the possibility of a cabinet shuffle and much guessing as to who might go where, Roland Paris wonders if John Baird might be the next defence minister.
Look at it from the prime minister’s standpoint. He needs a minister of defence who can weather the political storm that’s gathering around the department. Projected costs of the controversial F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will probably continue to rise, which is terrible news for the Tories, who have attempted to build their brand on fiscal discipline. Further, as Postmedia’s Lee Berthiaume reported yesterday, even the enormous price tag on the F-35 acquisition is dwarfed by the government’s $35-billion shipbuilding plan, which is already behind schedule. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is too smart not to see the great political risks.
If Mr. Baird goes to defence, it will be his sixth portfolio in just over six years after being President of the Treasury Board, Transport Minister, Environment Minister (twice), Government House leader and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
I’m not sure what the record is in this regard, but it would leave Mr. Baird one post short of the legendary Allan MacEachen, who was, at one time or another, Minister of Labour, Minister of Amateur Sport, Minister of National Health and Welfare, Minister of Manpower and Immigration, Secretary of State for External Affairs, Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 11, 2012 at 2:51 PM - 0 Comments
On the afternoon of January 26, 1971, Robert McCleave, the Progressive Conservative MP for Halifax-East Hants, rose on a point of order to complain about Bill C-207, the Government Organization Act. In Mr. McCleave’s opinion, the bill should not be read a second time, but rather be divided as it contained “at least seven distinct proposals or principles.”
I suggest to Your Honour that there is more than one proposal or principle involved in this bill, and therefore, having regard to the very ancient privilege of the House that members should not be asked to give simple answers to what are, in effect, several questions intermingled together, I ask Your Honour to take the position of ordering that the bill be divided when the vote comes so that honourable members have a chance to make a decision on each proposal.
A discussion—including contributions from revered parliamentarians Allan MacEachen and Stanley Knowles, among others—ensued. After various members had had their say, Speaker Lucien Lamoureux ruled. It was this ruling that Young Stephen Harper invoked when he objected to the Liberal government’s budget implementation act in 1994.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 12:01 PM - 2 Comments
On the occasion of his winning the prize for parliamentarian of the year, I sat down last Thursday with Bob Rae in his corner office on the fifth floor of Centre Block. Here’s a transcript of our conversation (only slightly abridged).
How do you now look back on the parliamentarian you were at that point when you first showed up?
I had a kind of a very lucky start because I was elected in a by-election and it was sort of the last six months of the Trudeau government and the NDP caucus was very small, it was like 15 or 16 people, and there were lots of opportunities for me to speak, to kind of get in and do stuff. I got to ask a question my first day and I did a late night debate.
The House was a much more congenial place. There were a number of Conservatives who were there who were very friendly—Ray Hnatyshyn, Lincoln Alexander and Steve Paproski. They all stayed for my maiden speech and they all heckled during the speech. You could tell it was a kind of very modest kind of hazing process—Well, we’ll see how this kid does.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 7:27 PM - 0 Comments
Joe Clark gets his portrait, Maxime Bernier is merely hanged
The Scene. Not that anyone expected to see him within a kilometer of this place, but, for the record, Maxime Bernier was not in his newly-assigned seat when Question Period was declared open at 2:15pm this afternoon.
Which is surely his loss. For he missed quite the show.
Rising with the first query, Stephane Dion’s voice cracked, the leader of the opposition apparently so excited at the prospect of an obvious advantage to claim over his government tormentors.
“Mr. Speaker, five hours before the foreign affairs minister resigned, the Prime Minister said, ‘I don’t take this subject seriously.’ It is true. He did not take this subject seriously and this speaks volumes about the appalling lack of judgment of the Prime Minister. Why was the Prime Minister more interested in protecting his protege than protecting the interests of Canadians?”
The Prime Minister, safely away in France, likely would have objected most to the suggestion that Bernier was any kind of protege. A project, maybe. But a protege? Surely we know better by now than to ever believe this PM would entertain the idea of grooming a rival, let alone one of Mr. Bernier’s capabilities. Continue…